July 16, 2012

VIDEO: After Attacking Opponent’s Lobbyist Fundraising, Dewhurst…Fundraises With D.C. Lobbyists

There’s a populist revolt against Big Money, and one place where you can see this on full display is in Texas. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst is running against former Solicitor General Ted Cruz for the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, and each side has accused the other of being beholden to lobbyists.

Dewhurst, who is widely considered to be the establishment candidate and who has received 33 times as much in corporate Political Action Committees (PACs) money as his opponent,  has said that Cruz is “another lawyer funded by Washington special interests,” referring to his backing by right-wing groups like FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth.

Last week my colleague Lee Fang and I caught up with Dewhurst while he was in town. He was here in Washington, D.C. to do exactly what he claimed his opponent was doing — fundraise with Washington lobbyists. Specifically, Dewhurst attended a fundraiser at R.B. Murphy and Associates, an elite D.C. lobbying firm.

“I see that you guys have criticized eachother for fundraising with lobbyists,” I told Dewhurst. “Who are you fundraising with tonight?”

“Oh just some people, that um. Most — we really haven’t raised much money from lobbyists compared to Mr. Cruz. Half the money that he has for his campaign is coming from Washington,” he replied.

“I noticed that the people who are fundraising here, R.B. Murphy and Associates, are Washington lobbyists for various corporations. Is there any sort of conflict with fundraising with Washington lobbyists like you are tonight?” I prodded further.

“No, no there’s not. This — We have an individual lady who is helping us. Just organize a place where we can have a reception –” That’s when one of his staffers cut him off. “Thank you guys!” he said, stepping in front of the candidate.

“What about lobbying reform, do you have any proposals for that?” asked my colleague Lee. But Dewhurst walked away and entered the fundraising event at exactly the sort of Washington lobbying shop that he had blasted at the campaign trail.

Watch our questioning of Dewhurst in the video above.

Although we don’t know everything about which lobbyists Dewhurst was fundraising with — there is not real-time disclosure of fundraising — we do know a few things about both the fundraising event and the lobbying firm where the event was held.  From the invitation that the Sunlight Foundation was able to obtain, we know that PAC sponsors gave $5,000 but were also able to co-host for a $2,500 donation. And publicly available data on R.B. Murphy and Associates shows that it has worked on behalf of a variety of corporate clients, ranging from tobacco giant Altria to the American Petroleum Institute to Segway LLC (the company that produces the transport devices by the same name).

They say you shouldn’t throw stones in glass houses. By fundraising with Washington lobbyists after accusing his opponent of doing so, Dewhurst just about brought his house down.